MORE Privately-funded ‘Staff’, FOIA’d DOCS REVEAL: Bloomberg Moves Beyond Attorneys General — Louisiana PSC Case Study

Bloomberg Moves Beyond Attorneys General, to Staffing Regulatory Agencies

Billionaire climate activist, who pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to end fossil fuels, is financing “staff” activists placed in State public utility regulatory commissions as he finances campaign behind LNG export terminal ‘pause’

Blackout risk accelerates as “Renewables” agenda advances

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial, “New York’s Near Zombie Apocalypse,” highlighted the threat that ideological state energy regulators have created in the Empire State, and to the entire country’s supply of reliable electricity. Michiganis now also skating close to the line. Other outletsincluding official organizations dedicated to ensuring reliability of supply— have since detailed how the main culprit behind this increasing vulnerability is the premature closure of electricity generating plants fired by coal. Now, the goal is to limit the availability of gas.

Documents obtained under state open records laws show that ideologically driven donors are paying activists to accelerate this agenda, and this risk, from the inside as “staff” and by providing consultants serving as additional ‘staff’ “to orchestrate [this] transition”. What began in progressive bastions such as Washington state has now extended into energy states.


Fully six years ago a Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Climate of Unaccountability” revealed findings compiled for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) which detailed a stealth campaign by progressive donors to hire and then place a network of off-books activists as governors’ energy, environment and climate “staff”. Along with consultants and media support, the project’s budget (see p. 8) scaled up in just three years to $50 million for 2020.

The Journal editorial raised the question: “The implications of all this extend beyond Washington … Where else are such special interest groups paying to influence policy?”  One answer emerged later that year. A follow-up report for CEI laid out how Michael Bloomberg, with millions of dollars run through a pair of non-profits (his own, running the money through New York University) was staffing progressive attorneys general offices to advance the same agenda, (the WSJalso ran an op-ed and its own unsigned editorial, “State AGs for Rent”).

Now, the threat of winter and summer blackouts is being hastened by state politicians and the regulatory agencies they direct pressing the “green” agenda further. And just as night follows day, recent public records releases from Louisiana, Michigan, and New Mexico reveal that both the Bloomberg operation and Hewlett’s project, “USCA,” have metastasized into this realm.

Michigan FOIA Reveals Clues

Emails obtained by Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) from the Michigan Public Service Commission show that a “renewables” industry trade group, “Advanced Energy United” is serving as the very same Bloomberg operation’s recruiter and facilitator, but now to pay to staff progressives serving as PUC/PSC commissioners. AEU is a project of “environmentalist megadonor Tom Steyer” (see, infra), which describes itself as “the association of business united in our mission to achieve 100% clean energy in America.”

Back in 2015, Advanced Energy United was called Advanced Energy Economy. Steyer’s lawyer Ted White described it in an email to an aide to Oregon’s then-Gov. John Kitzhaber, Dan Carol as among the “affiliated groups that we founded and fund.” Soon thereafter, Carol and the Governor were run out of office in a scandal involving “clean energy” donors and conflicts of interest. So, this story has roots in an icon of what is rather the opposite of good governance (see a research paper detailing those operations, here).

Now, “[a]t the state level, Advanced Energy United is working to educate policymakers and regulators” on, e.g.,“Accelerating the transition to 100% clean energy in Louisiana.”

Bloomberg’s shop offered the MI PSC a “possible collaboration/partnership” between the climate activists and energy regulators.[1]  Internal PSC emails referred to the overture as presenting “a potential opportunity to bring in anotherfellow” (italics added).[2]

In emails obtained by GAO from Michigan and the New York Public Service Commission[3] Bloomberg’s group statesthat “The Louisiana Public Service Commission will host the first Commission fellow”, and “I do want to share that are [sic] first non-attorney general fellow posting is now live, a legal policy analyst position with Commissioner Devante [sic] Lewis.”

Louisiana Records Show Much More Detail

30 year-old “social justice activist” Davante Lewis was elected in December 2022 to Louisiana’s Public Service Commission as a “progressive challenger steamroll[ing] a 17-year incumbent,” with the aid of over $1 million in green-group super PAC money.[4]

Lewis’s campaign website reveals he ran as a “good government” candidate, listing four priorities, among them “push for utilities to speed up adoption of clean, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind” and “ensure that the PSC takes a leading role in meeting the Louisiana Climate Action Plan’s goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2035.” This explains why he was soon recruited by “green” industry activists.

It also is no surprise his listed endorsements include the “Climate Cabinet PAC,” Sierra Club, and Democratic Socialists of America. Lewis also boasted an endorsement by an “Alliance for Good Government”. Although the group’s websiteindicates “good government” means a particular policy agenda, this does draw attention to another of his four driving principles, “Tackle corruption”. Lewis vowed that, “For too long, utilities like Entergy have used their monopoly power to generate record profits without making the necessary investments in hardening and updating our grid and power generation infrastructure. The Public Service Commission should be holding them accountable, but the utilities use campaign contributions to buy their way out of regulation. As a candidate, I refuse to accept donations from industries regulated by the PSC, and as a Commissioner, I will fight for new ethics rules to break the grip of corporate donors and push the Commission to begin serving the people of Louisiana instead. (emphasis in the original)

However, as Commissioner, Lewis is both de jure and de facto accepting donor-financed “staff” and senior advisors, and other consulting services paid for by donors, advisors who are formally employed by activist-financed outlets pushing a policy agenda.

Bloomberg “Fellow”

In early 2023 Lewis was approached by Regulatory Assistance Project (infra) Senior Advisor/ Consultant Jay Griffin about “the possibility of collaborating”. Records show Griffin immediately began acting informally as a member of Lewis’s office staff, advising him on issues before the PSC. Griffin soon broached the idea of Lewis formally take in a staffer paid for by Bloomberg’s outfit (house out of New York University, through which the money and project management runs).[5]

Records show that Lewis requested the Bloomberg organization provide a paid-for advisor to assist

“with a focus on:

conducting important research and analysis of energy litigation, policy, and regulatory matters related to the clean energy future, climate change, energy justice, …;

 developing strategy and forming action plans;

 collaborating with stakeholders;

 conducting in-depth analysis and preparation of memoranda;

 reporting findings to Commissioner Lewis and senior staff;

 coordinating with the State Impact Center and interested allies on legal, regulatory, and communications efforts regarding relevant energy issues;…

 providing legal advice;

 assisting in preparing associated regulatory documents;”

That would be quite a coup if, say, a pro-fossil fuel advocacy group were to provide a senior staff professional to draft analyses and provide legal advice to a different Commissioner, say, if the Charles Koch Foundation or a fossil fuel trade group provided staff to a different Commissioner.

This counterfactual places in stark relief the fact that, since this arrangement would be declared from the rooftops as highly improper if different parties were substituted, the practice is surely controversial and most likely inappropriate. If avoiding even the appearance of a conflict is the goal, Commissioner Lewis has failed.

Griffin sent the very same contractual agreement that Bloomberg’s outfit used to place activists in state attorney general offices, to work from. Bloomberg’s agent Ms. Bell wrote “[w]e are hopefully going to have funder sign off soon to get this rolling.”

Lewis accepted the “collaboration,” or Bloomberg providing him with a privately hired advisor to advance the “100% clean energy” agenda as a Public Service Commissioner. In April 2023 Lewis noted a problem, that Bloomberg’s staffer would make more than Lewis’s own staff, so he wrote that “[w]e are working on additional funds to beef up their salaries. In August, Lewis expressed his thanks to being selected first, and informed the Bloomberg outfit that the hire they paid so as to place in his office, Annie Matthews, would begin on September 11, 2023.

RAP: More Outside Activists Serving as Staff

Further records make clear that another entity also offering staff assistance to agencies looking to impose the “renewable energy” agenda is the Regulatory Assistance Project. RAP has long been supported by the green-group financing enterprise Energy Foundation, the subject of congressional inquiry over its links to China.[6] Griffin is only one RAP official serving as a de facto consultant or advisor to Lewis.

When he recruited Lewis to the Bloomberg fold, Griffin had already been acting as a senior staff advisor for Lewis’s Commission Office. That help was varied, regular, and sustained. Records illustrating the relationship include those showing Lewis’s office copying Griffin on, and including his input into, Lewis’s briefing materials; Lewis emailing Griffin, “Did we send you the current proposed draft by staff yet?” for comment; and telling Griffin how Lewis was inclined to vote, in seeking his advice. Lewis’s office shared their notes with Griffin from Commission meetings. One email from Griffin suggests that Lewis or aides shared with Griffin their information on why and on, e.g., what was behind staff advising a Republican Commissioner to vote the way he did.

For Griffin’s part, he provided advice assessing matters on the docket; reviewed the Commission agenda and priority items and provided Lewis notes on same; even counseled Lewis on expectations for dealing with neighboring states and what they might propose (on Lewis’s instigation, as he would simply forward his emails from PSC officials to Griffin).

RAP hooked Lewis’s office up with another activist group, Rocky Mountain Institute, to provide further services the jointly seek funding for more (“Resources and funding: RMI will utilize existing donor funding for Phase 1 of this work (<$50k), which will cover May-August 2023. RMI and LPSC will work together to secure additional funding for Phase 2, which will begin after the LPSC’s August Business and Executive Session”), and even drafted and submitted Lewis’s application to bringing more “fellows” this time paid for by the federal taxpayer courtesy of “Inflation Reduction Act” largesse (brokered by none other than Advanced Energy United).

Emails indicate that RAP’s role as informal if integral member of Lewis’s staff extends beyond Griffin. In early April 2023, Griffin followed up what he described as “our initial call,” introducing Lewis and a Lewis staffer named Edward Yeilding, to introduce them to the “Acting U.S. Program Director for RAP” Damali Harris, as among “the broader network of energy/ regulatory experts at RAP” there to give the Office “the help that you need”. Yeilding wrote back, “Nice to virtually meet you, Damali! We’ll be sure to keep you in mind and in the loop as we advance our priorities.” Harris wrote back, “I am thrilled to continue to be able to support Davante this way!”

In short, there is a robust paper trail that these “Regulatory Assistance Project” advocates are being provided by activist donors to serve as close advisors of a Louisiana Public Service Commissioner.


This scheme provides a reminder of just how long and in numerous iterations both Bloomberg and allies like Steyer have been at the game of staffing up officeholders willing to work to impose the “green energy” agenda.

In February 2024 the Wall Street Journal reported that “The Rockefellers, along with other wealthy donors including the philanthropy of Michael Bloomberg, have provided millions of dollars in recent years to front-line environmental groups that are campaigning against fossil-fuel projects, including LNG terminals that have been proposed on the Gulf Coast, according to people familiar with the effort.” See, “How the Rockefellers and Billionaire Donors Pressured Biden on LNG Exports.”

On its face, these arrangements raise legal and ethical concerns, first among them being, is this permissible? That is, is it permissible if, e.g., a utility industry group or a pro-fossil fuel group staffs a commissioner’s office? If a government agency gives pro-fossil fuel activists office space, a computer, and participation in official business? Do relevant statutory and ethics codes speak to the issue, are they ambiguous, or are they silent on such an arrangement? If allowing interested parties to provide staff and consulting services for Commissioners is permissible, what should the legislature, and the Commission, do to prohibit the continuance and spread of this practice and others presenting such appearances of conflict? If not permissible, what are the appropriate remedies, and process?

Legislators and Commission members seeking opinions from the appropriate authorities is the proper first step to answering these questions.


[1] Michigan suggested Bloomberg move beyond PSCs, and director Jessica Bell agreed that “fellows in other agencies could support our goals” and indicated that was in the works.

[2] Subsequent emails from Michigan officials revealed the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) saying “we have two fellows from USCA already actually – we’re just always eager for more!” See the separate discussion of USCA/United Nations “fellows” staffing agencies.

[3] New York explained its interest but that “our ethics office is still working through ethics considerations” of the arrangement had slowed it down.

[4] “The PAC’s fundraising represents an enormous sum for a PSC race, which typically garner little attention.” “Consultants say Lewis’ stunning upset exemplifies a trend that’s reshaping politics in southeast Louisiana. Three years in a row, well-funded outside groups have helped Democrats running as progressives topple establishment Democrats in hotly contested runoffs.”

[5] In the context of that recruitment, Griffin and Bloomberg’s director Jessica Bell also discussed “some key contacts that could be motivated allies”.

[6] RAP is underwritten by the Energy Foundation, which in turn has been a major priority of Steyer for years as a vehicle to advance his climate agenda. Philanthropy Roundtable writes, “The Energy Foundation was influential in convincing around three dozen states to set controversial regulations requiring utilities to generate a minimum fraction of their electric power from renewable or alternative sources, passing on the increased costs to their customers.” From its early days RAP offered to serve as advisors for state-level politicians who needed help advancing the agenda. See, e.g., “Another group, the Regulatory Assistance Project, introduced themselves to and sought out statewide officeholders expressly on the basis that the Energy Foundation had paid them to”.

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